We have all read (Matthew 7:1, Luke 6:37) or heard Jesus’ saying, “judge not, that you be not judged.” What do you make of that statement? Does this statement mean that you or I should not judge anybody – ever? This scripture has certainly been taught that way for generations. We have been told that it is wrong to judge. However, today, I tell you that this passage of scripture has been greatly misunderstood.

Why do I say that? Let’s think about this for a moment. We are constantly always having to to decide and make decisions, right? We are always making routine decisions, or should I say judgments without sometimes even realizing it. For example, at this very moment, you are trying to judge whether what I am saying to you sounds right or not. (Don’t worry, I am not offended). You may have glanced over or scrolled down to look at my picture and read about me before even reading this sermon. Why? Because you are trying to determine whether or not this preacher knows what he is talking about! (Again, don’t worry, I am not offended).

You see, we are always making judgments about something or somebody. Should we feel terrible for doing so? What I want to do in today’s sermon is focus on the way in which we should judge. I want to focus on proper judgment for us as Christians.

Let’s define proper judgment

If you look up the word proper, you will find this definition: adapted or appropriate to the purpose or circumstances; fit; suitable.

If you look up the word judgment, you will find this definition: being able to come to a sensible conclusion; the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion.

In the definition of judgment we see the word sensible prior to conclusion and so I want to define that word as well. Sensible: in accordance with wisdom or prudence; likely to be of benefit.

We have three definitions here for proper judgment. I want you to truly understand what is being said in those definitions so take a moment to digest those definitions. Judgement should be of benefit; it should be helpful! So, if we were to judge something or somebody properly, it should be of help and benefit to that person or thing. The question is, how often do we use our judgement in such a manner?

We must consider why we are judging others in the first place. If we are being honest, we know that people tend to tear others down in their judgment. For example, somebody can cook a meal and we can eat the meat and people will find something to complain about with the food! We tend to judge in a manner that puts others down instead of lift them up. Now, does that sound like the right thing for a Christian to do?

Watch how you judge others

Let’s understand what Jesus was teaching about judging others. Jesus says this in the following verse:

For with what [bjudgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.

Matthew 7:2 NKJV

We must consider that in the way we chose to judge others that judgement will be returned to us in the same measure. If you are lenient in your judging of others, leniency will likely be returned in judgment of you. If you are overly harsh in your judging of others, then the same will be returned to you. By this, what I mean, people will recognize how harsh you are in your judgment, and they will tell others that you are unfair. Such judgment could lead to people choosing to ignore your judgment if it is unfair.

This is something that we should certainly take seriously. If you are judging in a manner that puts others down, why would others judge in a manner that would benefit you? Sadly, many believers today are judging others very poorly because they may not believe what they believe in. Judging others in such a manner is not proper for the genuine believer and Jesus says as much.

And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?

Matthew 7:3 NKJV

Before we can ever judge anybody, we must consider our own ways first. Too often we see people judging others when they have not considered their own actions first. We cannot judge anybody properly when our way is still crooked and not straight! How can we judge the tiny grain in someone’s eye, when our eye is filled with a cluster of grains? That is not right!

Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?

Matthew 7:4 NKJV

The sad reality is that we don’t do such an evaluation process when it comes to judging others. What do we do? We ignore the clutter of grains in our eye but we can clearly see the tiny grain in another person’s eye. What am I getting at?

Well, we as believers are very quick to point out the sins of others. We see everything wrong thing that somebody else has done but we see no wrong in what we do. We will call out those who are gay, or alcoholics, or adulterers, or fornicators, but we cannot look in the mirror and call ourselves a liar when we tell a lie. Let’s be honest about it! Again, I say to you that judging in such a manner is wrong and not proper.

Jesus says to those who would judge in such a manner:

Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matthew 7:5 NKJV

Hypocrites! To judge in a manner is very hypocritical. Why? Because the clutter of grain hasn’t been removed from out of our eyes before we judged others. It is impossible for anybody to give any proper judgment when they are judging in that manner. So, to this, Jesus says that we ought not judge. However, notice what Jesus truly says to us in this verse.

Jesus says to us, “FIRST, remove the plank from your own eye”. Why do you suppose Jesus is telling us to remove the plank here if we are not supposed to judge anybody at all? It would seem that Jesus is giving instruction here for being able to judge others, right?

Jesus says, “THEN you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” You see, we as believers are supposed to help others remove the speck from their eyes, but we cannot do so with poor judgment. In order for us to use proper judgment, we must get the clutter out of eyes and walk in the newness of life. Too many of us are calling ourselves Christians, genuine believers, when our eyes are still filled with clutter!

Judging others properly through clear vision

The believer that is walking in the newness of life is encouraged to judge right from wrong. We are to be able to discern what is good for us and what is bad for us. If we can determine what is good, right, and helpful for us then we should also be able to do the same as well. We must also be able to discern the fruit being produced by others as well.

Jesus said to us (Matt. 7:16), “you will know them by their fruit”. When Jesus said that, He was talking about being able to recognize false teachers. Notice that He used the word “fruit”. Many of us cannot tell fruit trees apart until we see the fruit growing on the tree, right? This tells us something about what we should judge as well.

I cannot judge what is going on inside of the fruit tree until I see and taste the fruit. Proper judgment, does not judge what’s going on inside of somebody else. Why? Because none of us have the ability to know what is going on inside someone’s heart! We are not all knowing! The only one who can judge the hearts of man is God.

We can look at the fruit that is being produced through the actions of others and determine whether it is good or bad. When seeing good fruit we should give our words of encouragement. When seeing bad fruit, we must then determine our best means of being able to help them and not tear them down. You see, it’s one thing to tell somebody that they have sinned but it is another thing when you can help them to overcome their sins.

Ideally, this is the way in which we should use proper judgment. Now Jesus says to us:

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

Matthew 7:6 NKJV

Sadly, not everybody will listen to you or can be helped. Jesus says do not give what is holy to “dogs” or to “pigs”. We love talking to our dogs but they don’t really understand what we are saying aside from a few words. Arguing with my dog would be pointless because he’s just going to look at me, pant, and go about living. Pigs are even worse than the dogs!

We must be able to discern those that we can help and those who, sadly, cannot be helped. We must know when to throw our hands up in the air and let the Lord have His way with others. One of the saddest things in this life is when we miss out on those who care the most about us.

The best teacher is the one who won’t let you settle or get away with mediocrity. The best teachers are constantly pushing you and encouraging us to do better. Truly, this is a person that cares about you and genuinely loves you. Their judgment of you being able to do and be better is a judgment that is sensible. We as believers should leave such a mark in the lives of those that we meet. We should love, encourage, and support others through proper judgment so that they can grow and flourish.

Solomon wisely said (Prov. 27:17) that iron sharpens iron. Are you sharpening those around you and are they sharpening you?

Listen to today’s sermon

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